Do you call the police?

What it says in the title. Ever? Never? When? Under what circumstances? If you don’t call the police, what do you do instead?


The last time I called the police was because we were out tobogganing, and a parent had asked us to keep an eye on her kids because she had to go somewhere for a minute. Two hours later, we were all ready to go home and had no damn idea what to do with these kids, who were without accompanying adults, on a hill, in montreal, in the middle of winter.

The kids were young enough to be a bit vague on where they lived, so we felt like there weren’t a ton of options. We called the cops, and so far as we know the cops took the kids home.

It was not actually a super-easy decision to make, but we couldn’t just leave them in the park in the dead of winter, and we didn’t know what else to do with them.


I never have, personally. Oh yeah, once I did, when my car got broken into back in 1991 or so. They came by, had me fill out a report, didn’t pretend they could do anything more about it. Haven’t called them since then. I suppose I might, if I thought they could make themselves useful. After all, it’s one of the benefits of being a taxpayer.

Honestly, I know I’m very lucky that I haven’t been the victim of much crime in my life, and I suppose a bunch of cops really just want to be good guys, and do good-guy things. So I’ll call 'em if I really need to.

But there have been enough high-profile abuses of police power that I’m not inclined to try to help them out much.


I’m in England, so if it’s needed, yeah. Did it a couple of weeks ago, in fact. Some drunken fuckwit bricked a van window right next to my car and rifled through the glove box, then wobbled off with his girlfriend in the direction of the police station, so I called 'em, they nicked him and sent a very nice police officer round to take a statement. Absolutely no-one got shot even a little bit.


Not specifically police, but 911 - when an accident just happened directly in front of me (it’s happened a few times, which is why I have a dash cam, but now it never happens. Magic!). Of course, in the Glorious People’s Republic of Ann Arbor, you don’t even have to call the police, they’re just around. Last week, I was walking to the salon to get my hair cut, saw a pretty good street fight just past the corner park where the drunk homeless people hang out all day, thought about calling the police, started high-tailing it away in case guns, saw an officer coming out of a shop half-way up the block, and intercepted her as I passed, pointed it out and off she went to deal with it.

Community Policing, it’s the only way to fly.


People used to park across my (very short, 10-foot, identical to the neighbors’) driveway all the time at my old place. So I’d call the cops to have them towed. The police said that was better than my just calling a tow truck, because then the liability is on the cops and not on me or the tow company.


I did when my apartment was broken into 5 years ago, in order to have an official report made for insurance purposes.

But now, if I were in some sort of physical peril?

Probably not; I worry about cops just as much as I do the criminals when it comes to my well being and safety.


I don’t have much love for the police, but comments like this make me sad (and at the same time happy that I live in Germany). I called (and will call again) the cops without a second thought if I or persons around me are in danger.


Count your blessings.

I’ve been uncomfortably familiar with police brutality, and their perpetual use of excessive force in the Black community since I was 17 years old, and a 20 year old neighbor was shot 9 times by officers… who then claimed that he killed himself.



I hold out very faint hopes that we’re going to at least try and solve our problems here in the US.


Last time I called the cops was over 10 years ago. My friend and I had just walked from my house back to his to pick up his X-box, and bring it over for a LAN party. We opened the front door, and heard the back door slam. We run in to make sure the dog’s okay, then run back out, and there’s a guy with a bag full of loot at the end of the driveway.

Called the cops, 15 minutes later an off-duty police detective hauls the perp in, I write down my report, so does my friend, last I saw of it.

I’ve called 911 for fires though. But otherwise, no, I don’t call the police, unless I’m okay with the possibility of being misidentified and shot when they roll up.


Only once and it was a for a public disturbance. At the time, I lived in a little, tree-lined off-street in a urban neighborhood. Mostly house-to-apartment conversions, but every dwelling had a front porch. Really cozy street actually—you could hold a conversation with someone from across the street, each of you sitting on your respective front porches.

One of our neighbors was outside yelling at the top of his lungs about he was going to kick someone’s ass, every fourth word ‘motherfucker’, etc. Thing is, it didn’t appear that he was directing these words at anyone. When I approached the front door to go outside, he locked eyes with me through the window, at which point he directed his slightly paranoid ramblings at me.

I’m already a paragraph over my intended length for this anecdote so I’ll wrap things up. Police arrived, he calmed down, I approached him and asked if he was OK, and he nodded blankly. Felt bad for him at that point.

Was it psychosis? Plausibly. Drug-induced? Plausibly. In this end, the police couldn’t really do much for him. They aren’t social workers, much as we demand them to be at times.

ETA: This whole thing occurred back in my early twenties when I thought a guy shouting threats at no one in particular was somehow reason enough to call the police. Years of city living thereafter made me realize I’d been wasting their time.


I can’t rule it out. I mean, there are situations that are bad enough that it’s time to roll the dice. But honestly I’m white and anyone seeing me and my family would guess I was cis and hetero. I’m able to keep a real lid on my mental health issues in times of stress (I’ll freak the fuck out later) and, perhaps most importantly, I can hear, understand and speak English, so generally I can expect to do pretty well with the cops.


Sure. I’m not crazy about the police - I’ve been arrested myself a couple of times for spurious reasons, and I’ve had friends hauled out of my house and thrown in jail - but if I hear a gunshot or someone is creeping around on my property in the middle of the night I’m going to phone them. That’s what I pay them for. (I do have a couple of friends on the local force; they’re not so crazy about the police either.)

When I lived in England I was across the street from the local station, and I got to know the officers pretty well. We even exercised our dogs together. That didn’t stop them from putting me on their “weekly interview” list after the US bombing of Libya made everyone skittish.

This made my day.

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How does that work over there? Was the interview voluntary? Could you just say “thanks but I don’t care to talk right now” ?

I would if I needed something for the insurance company, some kind of paperwork indicating that something was stolen.

I have called them in the past when I saw a car facing the wrong way on the interstate, or a traffic accident. I certainly called several times in New York about noise complaints or car alarms.


No. I couldn’t even convince them that I’d be happy to walk across the street and talk to them at the station, they insisted on coming into my flat and poking around as part of the interview, no doubt looking for hidden terrorists. I didn’t hold it against them, it was all procedural directives they had from the Home Office, but it was both irritating and silly, these were people who already knew me and could be pretty sure that as a Jewish American I was probably not a secret agent of Khaddafi.


I have

1 - Mangled ladder in middle of highway
2 - Kids climbing one of those huge powerline towers
3 - Wasted looking guy stumbling around office park on a weekend
4 - I thought someone stole my car (It was at work - forgot I had gotten a lift home)
5 - couple others … I forget

Oddly enough, I did not call them (i was in college then)
1 - walking through park some dude pulled his johnson out and asked me if I wanted to play (I did not want to play)
2 - wrong house while delivering pizza - dude answered with handgun pointed at me (was afraid he’d come find me)


I called my friend at the FBI on my neighbor who had purchased a cargo van, painted the windows white, and then painted a fedex logo on it.